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June 05, 2017

Where to Take Receipt of Mail for the 3000

Return to SenderSome HP 3000 sites have little remaining budget for purchasing software for their systems. This state of affairs can change quickly. Company management can discover a hard-working and little-known application, one that will work even harder with a bit of software tied into it. (Minisoft's ODBC middleware comes to mind, as it did when it rose up at See's Candies just a year ago.)

Email, though, is harder. That application hosted from a 3000 never had a strong hold on corporate computing unless companies were good at looking at the future (3k Associates' NetMail saw the future and led MPE/iX shops to it) or deeply rooted in the past. HP Deskmanager was from a past where it ran Hewlett-Packard for more than a decade. HP Desk came into the world in the 3000's heyday of the 1980s. Tim O'Neill's 3000 shops held onto it through the Unix version of HP Desk. By his account, they came away from Deskmanager muttering.

There are bona fide motivations for making the 3000's data accessible to email transport, though. Mission critical information still needs to bolt from person to person as fast as lightning. ByRequest from Hillary Software sends 3000 reports around a company using email. The mail engine itself is nearly always running on a non-3000 server.

The most classic integration is to have a mail server on the 3000 itself. This was the wheelhouse for NetMail, which remains a current, supported choice for the site that can invest in mission-critical updates to their 3000s. Mail isn't often in that category for spending on MPE/iX. The community has managers who want to install nothing but shareware and open source and Contributed Software Library tools. So manager John Sommer reached out the 3000-L mailing list to find a CSL mail program. Everybody learned a lot, as is often the case. One of the most interesting revelations was the location of a CSL release that can be downloaded.

The short answer is a link from Frank McConnell at Facebook's HP 3000 Appreciation Society. "It's a copy of the CSL tape," reported Ian Warner on the list. "It’s not exactly straightforward, but for now there is a CSL ISO image on the Web."

At that Web address, a raft of contributed software containing the string "MAIL" resides inside the disk image. Tracy Johnson, keeper of CSL tape indexes at his Empire web server, located the names of 65 CSL programs either containing MAIL in the program names or with "mail" in their descriptions. Johnson's list was printed from a 1995 CSL release. During that year, Compuserve ruled the emailing world, along with a Unix shareware program elm.

The 3000 had its shareware, too. Sendmail was on the rise and remains the latest open-source ported mailing tool for the 3000. Mark Bixby did the Sendmail port, along with Syslog/iX, which Sendmail requires. NetMail/3000 was out, growing its feature set, making commercial email a reality. There was also MAILNM (the last two letters signify Native Mode, a clue about how old that code is). Time-machine riders can get the final version of MAILNM from 3k Ranger, who's also hosting that Sendmail version.

One freeware mail program first written at Whitman College is called MAIL. This MAIL seems to be what John Sommer was seeking. It's a part of the CSL disk image. Sommer's search for MAIL turned up the downloadable CSL image. Nobody can be sure of the legal status of CSL software today, but if you're downloading 15-year-old software for production use, legal issues probably are not your biggest concern.

One wag quipped that finding and using the CSL software required "getting the Delorean up to 88 MPH." (Back to the Future fans know this reference.) Managers of today don't need a wayback engine to get supported 3000 email running on MPE/iX. NetMail is there for that and its creator Chris Bartram still knows his way around MPE and mail protocols better than anyone else I know.

Patrick Santucci, who supported 3000s at Cornerstone Brands until that corporation, took everybody down memory lane with a HP Deskmanager recap.

I remember HPDesk. Kind of had a love/hate relationship with it. I loved the hierarchical way it was organized and the excellent use of the function keys. But I hated that pretty much anything and everything in HPDesk was only accessible from HPDesk. It did not play well with Novell or Lotus Notes, which is what I believe we used at the time. I think we finally did get it integrated, though it was just a PITA. But yes, I have fond memories of writing daily updates in HPDesk!

We're looking into why Sommer wants 1990s shareware on his 3000, although he said he loaded HPMAIL up on a 3000 in the past. Some have described HPMAIL as the precursor to HP Desk. Finding that requires a very fast DeLorean.

07:04 PM in Homesteading, Newsmakers, Web Resources | Permalink

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